The Dutch grading scale probably differs from the system you are used to. On this page we’ll try to explain how the Dutch come to a score. Our grading scale consists of numbers running from 1 to 10, where 1 is the lowest grade, 10 the highest and 5,5 (rounded off to 6) the passing grade.
Don’t expect a 10
The grading system in the Netherlands may not be the same as what you are used to. Don’t expect to get the highest grade as it is rarely given. An 8 is a very good grade and only excellent students achieve a grade higher than 8.
Absolute grading system
Another important aspect of the Dutch grading system, that differs from systems in the US and the UK for example, is that it is a so-called ‘absolute grading system’. This means that an individual’s grade is sole.ly based on the test score of that individual, not on how the student did relative to other individuals who took the same test. In other words: if you get 60% of the answers in a test correct, you will get a 6 (or less, depending on the cutting score / cut-off line). Regardless of what other students scored on the same test, even if 60% is the highest score.
In so-called ‘relative grading systems‘, which sometimes apply in the US and the UK, an individual is graded relative to others who took the same test. In such a system, if a 60% score on a test is the highest score achieved you will get the highest grade.
On a regular basis, these differences in grading systems and grading cultures in the world, lead to confusion and concerns among students. Students worry about the conversion of the grades they received in The Netherlands to the grading system in their own country, thinking that if they didn’t get 10s here, they won’t be able to keep up their grade point average of A’s at home. This is not true however. The Dutch 10 is not necessarily the only grade that translates into an A; the translation or conversion depends on the grade distribution in the countries involved.
Grade distribution has to do with the number of times a grade is awarded on a large scale (within a study program, a faculty or even a university for the past 3-5 years), translated into a frequency percentage. To convert a grade in one system to its equivalent in another system, one then compares the percentile range of the grade.
Convert your grade
The grade distribution at Inholland (based on all the final quarterly grades awarded from September 2013 to September 2017) is as the schudle on the right:
It is important that your home university knows about the grading system and culture in The Netherlands and about the true meaning of the grades. That’s why Inholland sends the grade distribution table to all partner universities. It is also incorporated in every diploma supplement and is printed on your grade transcript.